Flag desecration

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United States flag being burned in protest on the eve of the 2008 election

Flag desecration is a term applied to the desecration of flags or flag protocol, a various set of acts that intentionally destroy, damage or mutilate a flag in public. Often, in case of a national flag, such action is intended to make a political point against a country or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding methods of destruction (such as burning in public) or forbidding particular uses (such as for commercial purposes); such laws may distinguish between desecration of the country's own national flag and flags of other countries.

Quotes[edit]

  • Without the right to burn the flag, without that freedom of expression, the flag is just a piece of cloth. It means nothing. With that freedom, with our Bill of Rights, it's the greatest symbol on earth. It's magic.
  • If we set the precedent of limiting the First Amendment, in order to protect the sensibilities of those who are offended by flag burning, what will we say the next time someone is offended by some other minority view, or by some other person's exercise of the freedom the Constitution is supposed to protect?
  • I have consistently opposed a flag-burning amendment, and voted against its passage. Flag desecration is hateful and worthy of condemnation, and I would support any statory means possible to curtail desecration of the flag. But I believe that the importance of the Bill of Rights -- our nations founding document -- requires us to establish a very high threshold for agreeing to change it. Does the amendment address some extreme threat to our country, or redress some outrageous wrong? In this case, abhorrent though flag desecration may be, it simply does not meet that test.
    • Joe Lieberman, Associated Press policy Q&A, "Flag Amendment" (January 25, 2004).
  • Values in a free society are accepted voluntarily, not through coercion, and certainly not by law... every time we write a law to control private behavior, we imply that somebody has to arrive with a gun, because if you desecrate the flag, you have to punish that person. So how do you do that? You send an agent of the government, perhaps an employee of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Flags, to arrest him. This is in many ways patriotism with a gun – if your actions do not fit the official definition of a "patriot," we will send somebody to arrest you.
  • If I were king, I would not allow people to go about burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged. And it is addressed, in particular, to speech critical of the government.
  • What is this thing anyway? Nothing but a piece of cotton with a little paint on it, and some other marks in the corner there. I will not kiss that thing. It might be covered with microbes.

External links[edit]

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